A status update flowed through my Facebook news feed that said something like “prayer can literally stop the sun.” I probably would not have paid attention if the word “literally” had not been included. I hate to burst that person’s bubble, but no prayer, no matter how fervent, is going to cause the laws of nature to be violated or altered. Neither will prayer violate or alter the free will of another human. Why would we even want it to be so? An earth that is stopped in its tracks would result in catastrophic destruction for the earth and all its inhabitants. The ability to control others with prayer is just plain sinister. Both are the themes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. God is not a magic wish granter that defies physics to satisfy our desires.
This is not to say prayer has no value. Prayer as a spiritual discipline can change your life. Your life. It’s an inside job. Time spent in solitude praying can bring about startling personal revelations. It can result in epiphanies that change the course of your life. Prayer can change you and thus change your relationships with others. Prayer is powerful in those respects. You may see prayer as a chance to listen and hear the voice of the Divine speak direction over your life. You may see prayer from a process theological perspective that prayer allows you to work with God to shape the future (excellent post from a process perspective here). You might have a Jungian bent that prayer allows you to tap into the collective unconscious. You might not like the word prayer and prefer meditation or reflection.
The point is that stepping away from all the distractions of life to examine our lives and our relationships has value. Making time for prayer is a priceless discipline that can and will change your life. From the inside. No magical or supernatural or miraculous interventions necessary. No burning bushes, no withering trees, and certainly no suns stopped in the sky. Just you, quietly finding your way.